Author Interview: Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden
(Summary from Amazon)

Return to Harlem's "wildly entertaining" family in this funny, heartwarming sequel. When catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbors, the Vanderbeeker children set out to build the best, most magical healing garden in Harlem—in spite of a locked fence, thistles and trash, and the conflicting plans of a wealthy real estate developer.

While Isa is off at sleepaway orchestra camp, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney are stuck at home in the brownstone with nothing to do but get on one another’s nerves. But when catastrophe strikes their beloved upstairs neighbor, their sleepy summer transforms in an instant as the Vanderbeeker children band together to do what they do best: make a plan. They will create the most magical healing garden in all of Harlem.

In this companion to The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, experience the warmth of a family and their community as they work together to bring a little more beauty and kindness to the world, one thwarted plan at a time.




Q: Tell us about your book, specifically the story behind the titles of your book.
A: The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue, the third book in the Vanderbeekers series, is coming out on September 17, 2019. The story is set in springtime in Harlem, and the Vanderbeeker kids have one glorious week off from school. Their plans include preparing for a high stakes violin audition (Isa), working on the best science fair project ever (Jessie), building the treehouse of his dreams (Oliver), knitting a pair of house slippers for Franz (Hyacinth), and practicing flips (Laney). Their plans do not include single handedly destroying Mama’s baking business. While the kids race against the clock to fix their epic mistake, they realize that nothing is as easy as it seems, especially when mysterious packages arrive at their door and threaten to ruin everything.

You asked about the title of the book, and I have to admit that I am terrible at making up book titles. The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue was suggested to me by my wonderful critique partner, Laura Shovan.

Q; What is your inspiration behind The Vanderbeekers series storyline?
A; I was very much inspired by classic children’s books set in New York City, like All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor and The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. When I first thought of the Vanderbeekers, I wanted to create a contemporary story about a big family Harlem (a neighborhood I’ve lived in for the past ten years).

Q; What are some challenges unique to writing realistic fiction?
A; There are so many fantastic realistic fiction books out there; I think one challenge is writing a story that stands out with a unique voice.

Q; What makes this book a perfect fit for middle grade classrooms?
A: I think this book series is a great fit for middle grade classrooms because it’s funny, heartfelt, and students will most likely find a connection with one of the many characters.

Q: What does your daily writing life look like? (Do you set a word count for yourself daily? Or a page goal? Where do you write? How often if not daily?)
A: When I’m drafting a new book, I have daily word count goals. When I’m working on a book, I either work from home or from a coffee shop. Each day is different depending on what stage of the book I’m in. It’s definitely a juggling act!

Q: What’s the best thing about being a writer?
A; Oh, I love being a writer! I love every part of my job: the writing, the revision process, the illustrations, the school visits, the Skype visits. I also love that I can wear sweatpants to work.

Q: Future projects you are working on?
A: I am currently working on the fourth Vanderbeekers book, which comes out in fall 2020.

Q: What else would you like us to know?
A: I think teachers and librarians are the absolute best!


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